Terms and definitions from Pinker chapters 6 and 7

oronyms (P160) strings of sound that can be carved into words in two different ways
speech perception (P161) another of the biological miracles making up the language instinct
Speech Organ No. 1: the larynx (P164) "bet" vs. "pet" and "ate" vs. "hate"
Speech Organ No. 2: the tongue (the hump or body) (P166) "bet" vs. "butt" and "bit" vs. "bat"
Speech Organ No. 3: the lips (P168) "boot" vs. "book" or "Luke" vs. "look"
Speech Organ No. 4: the tongue root (P168) "beet" vs. "bit", "bait" vs. "bet", "boot" vs. "put", "boat" vs. "butt", and "pot" vs. "bought"
Speech Organ No. 5.: the velum (P168) the "a" of "Sam" vs. the "a" of "sat"
Speech Organ No. 6: the tongue tip (P169) the "th" of "thin", the "s" of "sin", and the "sh" of "shin" vs. the "f" of "fin" and the "ch" of "Bach" and "Chanukah"
obstruency (P170) the degree to which consonants impede the flow of air: separates stops, affricates, and fricatives from the more sonorant consonants (nasals, liquids, and glides)
redundancy of language, the (P181) Thanks to this, yxx cxn xndxrstxnd whxt x xm wrxtxng xvxn xf x rxplxcx xll thx vxwxls wxth xn "x" (t gts lttl hrdr f y dn’t vn kn whr th vwls r)
expectations, the advantage of (P183) narrow down the alternatives left open by the acoustic analysis of the speech signal; prevents listeners from noting missing sounds
mondegreen (for "’m on the green"(P186) illusion that shows that speech perception is not the same as fleshing out expectations: the mishearings are usually less plausible
AI research after 35 years, main lesson learned P192 the hard problems are easy (calculating pi to a million decimal places, keeping track of a company’s payroll) and the easy problems hard (recognizing a face, lifting a pencil, walking across a room, answering a question)
artificial intelligence (AI) P192 branch of engineering born in the 1950s, programming computers to "think"
parser P197 the mental program that analyzes sentence structure during language comprehension
parsing, difficulties of P201 (1) memory: keeping track of the dangling phrases that need words to fill them; (2) decision-making: choosing between alternatives [Which of these is easy for people and hard for computers? Which is hard for people and easy for computers?]

Other study questions over Pinker chapters 6 and 7

(N. B.: coverage of these questions postponed until the final exam)

 

What are the sounds of silence, according to Pinker? Why is this an apt name? (P169)

Why do we say "pingpong," etc., rather than "pongping," etc. (P167)

Distinguish between trochaic and iambic feet in the following: (P176)

Mary had a little lamb.

The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain.

Explain how and why the two k sounds in Cape Cod are different. (P182)

What are some of the mechanisms languages provide for avoiding top-heavy sentences? (P202)

Indicate whether each of the following sentences is right-branching, left-branching, or center-embedding: (P203)

  1. This is the cow with the crumpled horn that tossed the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built?
  2. The hummingbird’s wing’s motion’s rapidity is remarkable.
  3. The malt that the rat that the cat killed ate lay in the house.
  4. The rapidity that the motion that the wing that the hummingbird has has has is remarkable.
  5. Remarkable is the rapidity of the motion of the wing of the hummingbird.
  6. The dog the stick the fire burned beat bit the cat.
  7. The cheese that some rats I saw were trying to eat turned out to be rancid.
  8. Do you think that the rumor that the stuff they put in soft drinks causes cancer is true? (Labov’s real-life question concerning cyclamate)

Find the ambiguities in the following sentences (P209) (Give a paraphrase for each meaning):

  1. Visiting relatives can be boring.
  2. Vegetarians don’t know how good meat tastes.
  3. I saw the man with the binoculars.
  4. They heard the shooting of the hunters.
  5. Flying planes can be dangerous.
  6. Time flies like an arrow.

Parse the following sentence (by inserting helpful function words and/or other words.): (P210)

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

How do people home in on the sensible analysis of a sentence? By a "breadth-first search" or a "depth-first search"? How does the answer differ at the word level and at the phrase/sentence level? (P210)

Explain why each of the following is a "garden path" sentence: (P212)

  1. The horse raced past the barn fell.
  2. The man who hunts ducks out on weekends.
  3. The cotton clothing is usually made of grows in Mississippi.
  4. The prime number few.
  5. Fat people eat accumulates.
  6. The tycoon sold the offshore oil tracts for a lot of money wanted to kill JR.

 

Following are two pairs of sentences in which one member of each pair is easier to parse than the other. Identify which is easier, and explain why. (P214)

1. The defendant examined by the lawyer turned out to be unreliable.

2. The evidence examined by the lawyer turned out to be unreliable.

1. The student forgot the solution was in the back of the book.

2. The student hoped the solution was in the back of the book.

 

Explain the parsing problems presented by each of the following sentences: (P216)

Flip said that Squeaky will do the work yesterday.

Sherlock Holmes didn’t suspect the very beautiful young contess was a fraud.

Where are the traces in the following sentences? Explain. (P219)

1. I wonder who introduced John to Marsha.

2. I wonder who Bruce introduced to Marsha.

3. I wonder who Bruce introduced John to.

Which of the following two sentences is easier to parse, and why? How do the sentences differ grammatically? (P221)

1. Reverse the clamp that the stainless steel hexhead bolt extending upward from the seatpost yoke holds in place.

2. Reverse the clamp that is held in place by the stainless steel hex-head bolt extending upward from the seatpost yoke.

Which of the following two sentences is easier to parse, and why? How do the sentences differ grammatically? (P228)

    1. Some astonishing questions about the nature of the universe have been raised by scientists studying the nature of black holes in space. The collapse of a dead star into a poing perhaps no larger than a marble ceates a black hole.
    2. Some astonishing questions about the nature of the universe have been raised by scientists studying the nature of black holes in space. A black hole is created by the collapse of a dead star into a point perhaps no larger than a marble.

Explain how "faint praise" works, as in a letter of recommendation. (P229)

 

Midterm No. 2

[note: a section of short-answer questions over Pinker Ch. 7 (see the study questions above) will be postponed until the final examination]

I. Terms for matching with definitions or examples.

  1. acoustic phonetics
  2. allomorphs
  3. allophones
  4. articulatory phonetics
  5. aspiration
  6. complementary distribution
  7. distinctive features
  8. environments
  9. fricatives
  10. glides
  11. laterals
  12. liquids
  13. manners of articulation
  14. minimal pairs
  15. nasals
  16. obstruency
  17. parser
  18. phonemes
  19. phonetics
  20. phonology
  21. phonotactics
  22. places of articulation
  23. redundancy of language,the
  24. retroflexes
  25. Speech Organ No. 1:
    the larynx
  26. Speech Organ No. 2:
    the tongue (hump or body)
  27. Speech Organ No. 3:
    the lips
  28. Speech Organ No. 4:
    the tongue root
  29. Speech Organ No. 5:
    the velum
  30. Speech Organ No. 6:
    the tongue tip
  31. speech perception
  32. stop consonants
  33. syllables
  34. syntax

II. Odd sound out: Additional examples like those in our exercise. Instructions: "In each of the following groups of sounds, find the one member of the group that does not share a feature of sound shared by the other three. Encircle the "odd sound out" and name the feature it does NOT share. For some groups there is more than one possible answer; give as many answers as you can find that are valid. You may use either traditional articulatory features such as "labial" or "alveolar" or those used in modern feature systems such as "coronal," "strident," etc."

III. Reading of phonemic transcriptions. Instructions: "Reading English phonemic transcriptions. Give the usual English spelling of each of the following transcribed words and its part of speech (N, V, Adj, Adv, Prep, etc.). Also, indicate the number of syllables in each word as traditionally determined, and the number of stressed syllables (= the number of stressed vowels)."

III. Improving transcriptions. In this section, you will be shown some attempts to use our phonemic transcription system to transcribe ones own speech--the transcribing of 160 words we have done as an exercise. Each of these attempts could be improved upon in one or more ways. You will be asked to indicate how the transcriptions might be improved.

IV. Networks of interlocking differences of sound: Be able to make decisions as to additional words that should be included in such a table. Instructions: "Some of the words in the following list belong in the table below; some do not. Write each of those that do in the proper cell of the table."

V. Phonemicizing other languages. Instructions:

Determining phonemes and allophones in other languages. In each of these problems, examine the sounds in question and their environments, and decide whether they are allophones of one phoneme, or separate phonemes. Base your decisions only on the words given, not on any other information you may happen to have on the language in question. Explain the reasoning on which you base your conclusions.